Anger, guilt and feelings of failure overwhelm you. You feel you are not enough.
“I was in severe pain after my baby was born. I told the midwives and my family and was given Paracetamol. Six weeks later, I still couldn’t sit down. I couldn’t sleep or sit up and feeding the baby was torture. No one believed me. I was having night sweats and nightmares and flashbacks of the birth. Eventually I went to a private consultant who said I had a broken Coccyx. Once I was believed, I started to improve.”
Over the following five to six weeks after birth your brain can process the traumatic event as a normal memory and things may go back to normal, but for around 9% of new mothers there will be a lasting emotional effect which can trigger anxiety attacks and impact many areas of their lives for years.
“My birth was so fast! Everyone said I was so lucky that I didn’t have hours of labour, but I really thought I was going to die. I was terrified and every time I looked at my baby I began to shake. In the hospital, I was hailed as a hero but I couldn’t even talk about what happened. I knew I should have been delighted and I didn’t know why I was so upset. It wasn’t until we started planning another baby that I realised I needed to get some help. I hired a doula and she suggested going for some treatment. Best decision I ever made.”
A healthy baby is the most important thing but it’s far from the only thing that matters and studies show that the way women are treated and respected during the birth of their child impacts them for a very long time. Words in the labour room and afterwards matter a great deal. During birth, women are at their most powerful, but also their most vulnerable. Their senses are heightened and they are instinctively on high alert.
Women often speak of a sense loss after a traumatic birth. Loss of control, loss of autonomy, loss of dignity and very often these losses are not related to the birth outcome but rather to how they were treated and spoken to whilst in labour or in the time immediately after.